Bush Seeks to Affirm Permanent Influence

>> Saturday, August 30, 2008

As his time in office winds down Bush wishes to put his stamp on the government, permanently. Pending that he wants to make it as hard as he can for a possible Obama administration to undue the policies and practices of his administration. He wants to ensure that even has failed conservative policies fail at the ballot box they continue in government through his appointments and changes in the law. One of the more controversial changes Bush has made is his expansion of Presidential power. A key to this expansion was his use of war time powers. It is this war time power that is the subject of his latest attempt to scar our country for generations in his name.

One of the important techniques Bush has used in securing his power and changes in government is making congress complicit in his acts. He is up to his old tricks again as outlined by the NYT piece Bush Seeks to Affirm a Continuing War on Terror . The focus of the piece is Bush's attempt to have congress issue a statement renewing a declaration of war with the Taliban and Al-Queda,

“acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans.”

The language is included in a proposal for hearing legal appeals from detainees at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay and is just one in a number of recent attempts to codify Bush policies in law. The goal is to make sure that the next president has the same expanded powers of detention, interrogation and surveillance. It is a power grab at the expense of the legislative branch. If Congress capitulates on this it will mark simply another instance of their complicity in the Bush abuse of power.

Recently the Bush administration rewrote the rules governing spying by U.S. intelligence agencies, both in the United States and abroad. None can forget the recent FISA rewrite. In addition, Bush has been placing judges on US federal benches that comply with his ideology. The same goes for the different US bureaucracies including the epa where Bush has made sure that nothing is done to protect the environment and the FBI where he signed off on torture.

The implications of his actions are many. Already i have briefly discussed the fact that his changes will leave a lasting impact on the US policy and law. The attempt to get a renewed war powers statement is also a way to bring back some sense of fear in the populace.

Mr. Bush “is trying to stir up again the politics of fear by reminding people of something they haven’t really forgotten: that we are engaged in serious armed conflict with Al Qaeda,” said Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional scholar at Harvard and legal adviser to Mr. Obama. “But the question is, Where is that conflict to be waged, and by what means.”

The war on terror is a war like the war on drugs. It is not a real war. It is essentially a police action and should have been fought as one. When the Rand Corp study on the subject came out at the end of July it only confirmed what others have been saying for years our actions are not working and only strengthening the criminals.

The authors call for a strategy that includes a greater reliance on law enforcement and intelligence agencies in disrupting the group's networks and in arresting its leaders. They say that when military forces are needed, the emphasis should be on local troops, which understand the terrain and culture and tend to have greater legitimacy.

In Muslim countries in particular, there should be a "light U.S. military footprint or none at all," the report contends.

"The U.S. military can play a critical role in building indigenous capacity," it said, "but should generally resist being drawn into combat operations in Muslim societies, since its presence is likely to increase terrorist recruitment."

Instead of heading the calls of experts the Bush administration is seeking to make sure its crimes and practices become the law of the land. They want to ensure that we continue to use the phrase "enemy combatants". They want to hold the future people America to their odious ideas about how to protect this country, throwing people into a prison camp without legal recourse.

The administration wants Congress to set out a narrow framework for those prisoner appeals. But the administration’s six-point proposal goes further. It includes not only the broad proclamation of a continued “armed conflict with Al Qaeda,” but also the desire for Congress to “reaffirm that for the duration of the conflict the United States may detain as enemy combatants those who have engaged in hostilities or purposefully supported Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated organizations.”

It is truly galling to think that our country has a policy that allows us to hold someone forever under this title of enemy combatant as the jurors in the trial of Osama bin Ladens driver found out. They tried to put in in prison until Bush was out of office as a demonstration that they felt this policy was wrong. They were shocked to discover that he could be held forever,

"After all the effort that we put in to get somebody a fair trial . . . and then to say no matter what we did it didn’t matter — I don’t see that as a positive step," the juror said.

The administration contends that it can hold enemy combatants for as long as the war on terror lasts. If congress goes back and affirms in the way bush wants it will ensure that anyone acquitted or sentenced in Guantanamo will be staying in Guantanamo.

The decision is up to congress. Do they want to be seen as the patsies of the Bush administration again? I have little confidence that they will grow a spine and stand up to the Bush admin. Even as we celebrate the coming of the end for Bush we will be stuck with his flawed policies and ideology entrenched in our laws and government.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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